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Showing posts from June 7, 2015

Review: Stella Dallas

Barbara Stanwyck plays the title social climber who gets involved with John Boles, not long after reading in the papers that he has called off wedding plans with Barbara O’Neil because his family just lost most of its money, and he felt she deserved better. Everything goes swimmingly between Stella and her new man, and they even have a daughter together, whilst O’Neil has also moved on with another man and had two children. Unfortunately, their class difference and Stella’s deep insecurities eventually put too much of a strain on the couple, so that when he gets a job offer in another state, Stella stays behind, ending their relationship, though Stella refuses to divorce him. She also starts spending more time with her boozy pal Ed Munn (Alan Hale), whilst Boles gets back with the now widowed O’Neil and wants a divorce from Stella. Stella’s daughter grows up, now played Anne Shirley, and it is around this time that Stella starts to realise the negative impact (or what she perceives as…

Review: Freelancers

Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson stars as one of a trio of former delinquents turned cops, in his case he’s the son of a cop (Andre Royo) who was killed right in front of him. He ends up joining a special task force headed by his father’s former partner, played by Robert De Niro. De Niro makes it pretty clear early on that he and his cronies are all corrupt, including Forest Whitaker, De Niro’s right-hand man who is now a hopeless, pitiful drug-addict. At the other end of the scale, one of 50’s buddies is mentored by an honest African-American cop (Robert Wisdom), who tries to make a difference, by sometimes letting a petty young crim walk, hoping that giving him a chance will save him from becoming a career crim. In his final role, Pedro Armendariz Jr. turns up as a drug kingpin, whilst Vinnie Jones turns up as a middle-man criminal, and Dana Delany plays the widow of a deceased DA, who tries to steer 50 Cent clear of the bad eggs on the force.

Further proof that Robert De Niro should either…

Review: Machete Kills!

When a madman revolutionary with a split personality (both played by Demian Bichir) threatens to blow up the White House armed with a bomb designed by nutjob arms dealer Voz (Mel Gibson), the American President (Charlie Sheen!) can rely on only ONE MAN: Machete (Danny Trejo). Michelle Rodriguez is back as Machete’s right-hand woman, Luz, whilst Amber Heard turns up as Miss San Antonio, a beauty queen who also happens to be Machete’s contact on this case. Sofia Vergara and her weaponised breasts turn up as a madam with a throng of deadly hookers. Lady Gaga, Walton Goggins, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Antonio Banderas all combine to play a dangerous hitman targeting Bichir and constantly changing their appearance. William Sadler plays a sheriff, whilst the always welcome Tom Savini reprises his assassin role from the first film, but now apparently a reformed man.

Lightning doesn’t quite strike twice in this 2013 follow-up to the splat-tastic action/exploitation homage from filmmaker Robert Ro…

Review: Cube Zero

Another group of people stuck inside a cube structure with no idea of how they got there or how to get out. Meanwhile, they are being observed by two menial workers (Zachary Bennett and David Huband) tasked with observing the people and on occasion ‘testing’ them. Michael Riley turns up as the creepy superior of the two workers, who comes down to see them when one of the men seems to be questioning his job.

The third film in the series (some believe it to be a prequel but if so, it’s not actually clear), and this 2004 entry from writer-director Ernie Barbarash (who co-scripted “Cube 2: Hypercube” and directed the cheap and lousy “Hardwired”) is pretty much a complete dud. The film starts out with an interesting split narrative but quickly squanders the opportunity to take this series in a new direction by merely using the split narrative as a different way to have one of the characters enter the cube. Other than that, it’s the same old thing, except this time it’s been done a lot wors…

Review: Lars and the Real Girl

Ryan Gosling stars as Lars, who is deeply troubled, painfully socially awkward, and has started up a new relationship with a sex doll he names Bianca (!), that he has ordered on the internet. His sweet-natured sister-in-law Emily Mortimer will probably regret that Lars has finally accepted one of her many invitations to dinner, bringing Bianca with him. Lars’ considerably more stable brother Paul Schneider can barely contain his disdain and bemusement at having to treat Bianca as ‘real’. But Lars (who lives in their garage, by the way) is obviously not in a good place, mentally or emotionally, and the couple suggest he see a doctor. The doctor (played by Patricia Clarkson) explains the deal to them; Bianca is real to Lars and until he overcomes whatever is holding him back from being a normal, active member of society that he used to be, they had best just go along with the delusion. Anything else would risk an even bigger decline in his mental health. There’s really nothing else they…

Review: Thunderbolt

Jackie Chan plays a mechanic, occasional race car driver and reluctant snitch for the police on illegal street racers. Mostly, though, he’s a humble family man, and it’s his beloved family that become the target of villainous German crim and illegal street racer Thorsten Nickel. He kidnaps Chan’s sisters and forces him to compete in a grand prix race in Japan (!) in order to win his family back.

The story goes that Jackie Chan injured his leg during the filming of “Rumble in the Bronx”, and thus used doubles for most of his fights/stunts in this 1995 film from director Gordon Chan (Jet Li’s “Fist of Legend”, Chan’s “The Medallion”) and his co-writers Hing-Ka Chan and Wai Chung Kwok. I don’t know if Jackie was contractually obligated to do this film already when he sustained the injury, but if not, he shouldn’t have bothered. Not only is this an entirely tedious, lousy excuse for an action film, but since the highlight of Jackie’s films are the usually crazy stunts/fights, and he’s not…